As an entrepreneur, or someone who is thinking about becoming one, you realize that most of what you do is make lots and lots of decisions. It’s not easy making all those decisions alone, and you probably have a process for making the tough ones.
Steps to Making a Decision
1. Determine need
2. Research options
3. Analyze the pros and cons of each
4. Make a decision
It’s fun and easy when there is a clear winner and a decision must be made. On the other hand, it’s more difficult when you can’t know the results of your decision until after it is made when 20/20 hindsight will be your judge.
Analysis Paralysis Defined
Sometimes you get caught in a feedback loop in step 3, and you keep circling back between steps 2 and 3, and never quite making it to step 4. This is called analysis paralysis also known as “over-thinking” or “over-analyzing.”
If you see yourself here, believe me, you’re not alone.
There may be many causes to your indecisiveness:
- Imperfect information, having to make a decision before all the facts can be known;
- A no-win scenario where no choice is a desired outcome;
- Too much information leading to information overload and causing you to withdraw;
- Fear of making a wrong decision or making a mistake
As you grow into your entrepreneurial shoes, you’ll learn to select a choice even though you have imperfect choices. You’ll make a few mistakes along the way, but won’t beat yourself up over it because it happens, you learn from that, and that’s preferable to inaction.
As your small business grows, you’ll be able to delegate and trust the smaller decisions to your VA or team, so that you don’t get bogged down with too many choices a day. Your team won’t make every decision that you would, but you’ll give feedback to guide them in the future, and you’ll remember how much of your time was saved by your not having to do those tasks.
It’s the last factor, fear of failure, which I want to address the most. Have you ever asked yourself why you became an entrepreneur? — I mean beyond the obvious reasons of flexibility and calling your own shots. If you look deep down, there must be a risk-taker in there somewhere, because let’s face it, if you were risk adverse, you’d be working at a low-paying, secure, civil servant job.
I can’t help you from feeling fear because as you make ever more important decisions that affect you, your business, and your family, you will get those butterflies in your stomach. Even though you feel the fear, I want you to move beyond it. Here’s a favorite quote of mine:
“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”
(Sven Goran Ericksson)
You, like everyone else will have failures; you’ll learn from them, and move on.
I wish there was a magic pill that I could give you to prevent analysis paralysis, but there isn’t. If you’ve researched your decision, analyzed the positive outcomes and possible pitfalls, and discussed the issue with a coach or mentor, then you’ve done the process, and there isn’t much more to do than make a decision. (Note that I didn’t suggest asking all your friends what they think because you’ll get dozens of opinions pro and con that will just create confusion—stick to your coach, mentor, or life-partner.)
I will add that you can try making the decision in your head, telling no one, and just live with that for a day or two, and see how it feels. If you are scared, but excited, go with it. But if you are terrified and filled with foreboding, then you may need to take a pass. (You may not be cut out for taking the big leaps that huge success requires.)
Look Back to Look Forward
One way to analyze a current decision before you is to take a look back on big decisions that you have made in the past, and look at them with your present perspective. I’ll imagine that some of the scariest decisions that you’ve made (getting married, deciding to have children, buying your first home) have been amazing life-changers that you wouldn’t take back. With this “crystal ball to the past,” I’ll venture to say that you have more regrets about the opportunities that you let pass by than the ones you grasped.
To summarize, the next time you see yourself suffering from analysis paralysis make sure that you’ve followed your process, and then make like Cher in Moonstruck and shout, “Get over it!”© Copyright 2010 Ali Brown